Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! Silver threads of rain fall from a leaden sky on this first Saturday in May. It’s been chilly so far this month and, while the flowers are getting plenty of water, they long for the warm sunshine, as we all do. I’ve chosen a green tea to grace my tea bowl this morning, an Organic Lung Ching from Zhejiang province, located in eastern China.

Lung Jing (Lung Ching, Long Jing) tea has a distinctive flat shape due to its unique processing. This flat shape is intentionally caused by the motion of the charcoal pan when the leaf is pan-roasted to stop oxidation. Its name means “Dragon’s Well,” referring to the place where it has been traditionally grown. Legend has it that a Taoist priest in the 3rd century advised the local villagers to pray to the dragon of a local well to bring rain and end their drought. It worked and the well was named after that dragon. The Dragon’s Well monastery still stands in that spot to this day.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. I prefer spring water because of its mineral content. I find that it imparts a liveliness to my steeped tea, which I enjoy. Different water sources can produce different qualities and flavors in the same tea. I encourage you to experiment by steeping the same tea with different water and see which you prefer.

Even on this dark and dreary day, the liquor glows in my glass teapot.

The aroma is sweetly vegetal, with hints of buttered corn.

I love the flavor of Lung Ching tea. This selection is classic, sweet and nutty, smooth and silky on the tongue, with toasty hints and a whisper of fresh corn.

I’m looking forward to a family weekend, spending time with all of my grandchildren and celebrating my youngest son’s birthday.

Until next time, I hope you enjoy many delicious cups of tea!

“I sustain myself with the love of family.” ~Maya Angelou

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Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m back from my Michigan trip and am happy to sit down and share another delicious cup of tea with you again. It’s been a very busy week and I need to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy some meditative time with a cuppa. Why don’t you join me?

My favorite tea for contemplation is white tea. In my teapot this morning is a China white called Organic Pai Mu Tan Supreme. The silvery buds reflect the uniform gray sky hanging over this misty, spring morning.

This tea’s plucking order is the new leaf shoot, or bud, plus the top leaves. Pai Mu Tan, or Bai Mudan, translates to “white peony,” some say because of the shape of the leaves, others because of its fragrance.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water.

A common question is: “what’s the difference between green tea and white tea?” The difference is in the processing of the leaves. Whereas green tea leaves are heated up pretty much right away, whether steamed or pan fried, for example, to halt the oxidation of the leaf, white tea leaves are allowed to wither naturally in the sun, sometimes for several days. So, the leaves aren’t heated to halt oxidation. In fact, after withering, the leaves are piled and allowed to oxidize a little bit before they are baked to dry the leaves out for packing and transport. This processing contributes to a more herbaceous and much less vegetal flavor.

As I pour the golden wheat-colored liquor into my cup, I detect a honeyed fruit fragrance in the aroma. I look forward to my first sip.

My first sip reveals a very smooth, sweet flavor, with notes of fresh melon and a soft toasty hint. I breath in the fragrance and sip oh so slowly. Slowing down and slipping into the moment allows me to unwind my knotted thoughts and let them float away like the steam from my cup.

Enjoy your next cup.

“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.” 

~Jon Kabat-Zinn

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! April showers are gathering in big puddles outside, and it’s blooming spring in my kitchen. Do you recognize the leaf? That’s right, a brand new first flush Darjeeling, one of my favorite spring treats. This lovely selection is from the Tindharia Estate.

The Tindharia tea garden is a bio-organic estate, located in the South Kurseong area of Darjeeling district. I’ve read that the town of Kurseong, whose name means “Land of the White Orchids”, is a quiet hill station. A hill station is “a town in the low mountains of the Indian subcontinent, popular as a holiday resort during the hot season.” At elevations of 400-1000 meters, it sounds like a great destination for cooling off during the hot summer months.

I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in boiling point (212F) water. For those of you new to tea’s delights, it’s always best to pour the water over the leaves rather than adding the leaves to the water. As you pour, it wakes up the leaves and starts the steeping process.

The aroma coming from the wet leaves is fresh and floral with a hint of vegetal. When I was just starting my tea journey many years ago, I saw a man plunge his nose right into the wet leaves and inhale deeply. At the time, I didn’t quite know what to think but now I understand completely.

The golden-amber tea liquor has a sweet fragrance with notes of flowers and a light toasty hint.

The cup is extremely well balanced with a smoothness that falls on the middle of my tongue and a refreshing pungency that wakes up the sides. Notes of flowers join a suggestion of tart fruitiness in the flavor. This tea is the second lot (EX-2) that was picked at Tindharia this spring. I’ve also tried the first lot (EX-1) and find that to have a gentler character when compared to this lot.

I’m happy and excited to share that my granddaughter, Adelyn Claire, was born on Thursday! A dear friend of mine said it perfectly: her beautiful face is one straight from heaven. I couldn’t agree more.

Saturday Morning Tea will return in 3 weeks as I’ll be in Michigan visiting my family in mid-April. Until then, happy sipping!

“Children are the rainbow of life. Grandchildren are the pot of gold.”

Irish Blessing

Saturday Morning Tea

Good morning, dear tea friends! I’m still wondering when spring will bloom here in my little corner of the world. Last Tuesday, we got a foot of snow dumped on us in a, hopefully, last blast of winter. With frigid temps all week, we’re living in a world of large white piles of snow and ice. Thank goodness for tea! For my morning tea today, I’ve chosen a China Oolong with a venerable pedigree, Da Hong Pao Oolong. Da Hong Pao translates to “Big Red Robe.”

Are you wondering what big red robes have to do with this tea? Well, there’s a legend that the mother of an emperor fell ill and was cured by a certain tea. The emperor sent big red robes to clothe and honor the bushes from which the tea originated, in the Wuyi mountains of Fujian province. The legend goes on to say that three of the four bushes still survive today and are highly venerated.

I steeped the large leaves for 4 minutes in 190F water. It’s always a good idea to use water under the boil when steeping an Oolong tea.

The aroma is rich and complex, with notes of fruit, honey and sweet tobacco.

The leaves yield a gorgeous amber liquor that reflects the sunlight streaming in my kitchen.

My first sip fills my mouth with a silky buttery feel, followed by layers of flavor: honey, chestnut, aromatic wood, stone fruit and a lingering whisper of smoke in the finish. Amazing.

This tea will lend itself to multiple steepings so you could drink it all day long. mmmmm…

The day is drawing near when my granddaughter will enter this world, hopefully, within the next few days. I so can’t wait to meet her. I’m looking forward to sharing the special news with you the next time we meet. Until then, happy sipping!

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

~Mark Twain

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! The blustery arrival of March here in New England is true to the saying “arrives like a lion,” with below freezing weather still hanging on. It’s definitely time for tea! Wrapped up in one of my favorite cozy sweaters on this frosty morning, I steeped up a pot of green tea, called Lu’An Melon Seed (Lu An Gua Pian).

This tea comes from the Lu An region of An Hui province in China, an area of dense bamboo forests and small, remote tea gardens. I’ve read that this is the only China tea that is made from a single leaf, rather than the usual bud and one or two leaves. The plucking order is to take one leaf, along with a little bit of twig, from beneath the new growth on the bush. The tea is carefully hand processed in heated woks with the assistance of small hand brooms to shape the leaves. Final drying takes place in bamboo baskets over a charcoal fire.

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I steeped the leaves for 3 minutes in 180F water. As the leaves were steeping, I caught a fleeting whiff of a savory cooking aroma, perhaps a small remnant of the drying process.

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Here’s an example of the single leaf plucked for this tea. Beautiful.

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The glowing golden liquor has a creamy nuance in the aroma, which reminds me of creamy almond milk.

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Floral hints bloom around a creamy, buttery mouth feel, finishing with a toasty/nutty whisper. Both the vegetal and astringent quality are very low in this tea. As the tea cooled, I detected a hint of melon, which reminded me of a fine white tea.

As I sip my tea, I gaze out my window and watch the tall limbs of the maple trees in my neighbor’s yard bend with the strong breeze. Spring is only 16 days away and, to quote one of my favorite singers, I welcome its arrival “with open arms.”

As always, I enjoy sharing a cup of tea with you. Happy sipping!

“The snow has not yet left the earth, but spring is already asking to enter your heart. If you have ever recovered from a serious illness, you will be familiar with the blessed state when you are in a delicious state of anticipation, and are liable to smile without any obvious reason. Evidently that is what nature is experiencing just now. The ground is cold, mud and snow squelches under foot, but how cheerful, gentle and inviting everything is! The air is so clear and transparent that if you were to climb to the top of the pigeon loft or the bell tower, you feel you might actually see the whole universe from end to end. The sun is shining brightly, and its playful, beaming rays are bathing in the puddles along with the sparrows. The river is swelling and darkening; it has already woken up and very soon will begin to roar. The trees are bare, but they are already living and breathing.”

~Anton Chekhov, The Exclamation Mark

 

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! With my tea choice this morning, I’m traveling to the island of Java, the largest in the string of volcanic islands that make up the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia.

This tea was grown on the Malabar Tea Estate, located in West Java, near Mount Malabar, a stratovolcano built up from many layers of lava, pumice and volcanic ash.

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This tea estate has been in existence for over 100 years. The well-known and beloved planter and philanthropist, Karel Albert Rudolf Bosscha, managed the estate for many years until his death in 1928. Sometimes called KAR Bosscha, he traveled to the Netherlands Indies in 1887, working at various jobs such as gold exploration and mining before he took on the management of Malabar in 1896. The son of a Dutch physicist, he carried on his family’s science interest by developing an astronomical observatory as well as a Cancer Center in the nearby city of Bandung. A lot of interesting history there.

I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes in boiling point (212F) water.

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As I removed the infuser from my glass teapot, I detected a strong aroma of peppery spice and aromatic wood wafting up from the very dark tea liquor.

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My first sip had a caramel-like sweetness, very smooth, which wrapped around the spicy, woody notes. The liquor is quite robust with an interesting flavor that draws you in like a magic spell. It’s the kind of tea that intrigues your palate with its aromatic spicy darkness. My first cuppa went very quickly!

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If you’ve never tried an Indonesian tea before, I encourage you to give this selection a try. It’s definitely hearty enough for milk and sweetener.

My day will be spent wrapping tiny knitted things, preparing for my daughter’s baby shower tomorrow. Yes, I’m so excited to share that I’m going to be a grandma again! Life is truly filled with many blessings.

Happy sipping!

If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.

~Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday Morning Tea

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Good morning, dear tea friends! I was greeted by brilliant sunshine streaming through my windows as I padded down to my kitchen to prepare my morning tea. The days are getting longer as we march towards spring, and it’s exciting to have my path home from work now illuminated by the last light of the day. What’s in my cup today? You wouldn’t know it from my photos but I’m enjoying a pot of China Pu-Erh tea. This is very light for a Pu-Erh tea, you say? That’s because it’s a Sheng Cha, or “raw” Pu-Erh. There are 2 types of Pu-ehr, raw (Sheng or Qing) and cooked (Shou).

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Pu-Erh teas technically start out green but have a tea category all of their own because of their unique processing methods. Some people use the word “fermentation” when describing the oxidation process that turns tea leaves dark. In this instance, the correct term is “oxidation.” Pu-Erh leaves are truly fermented, in the sense of the word, because various components are introduced during processing that allow the leaves to ferment. This process is a long held secret. Leaves and tips (buds) are harvested and sun dried, much like white tea, and then the magic happens that creates Pu-Erh tea.

I used 180F water and steeped the leaves for 4 minutes.

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The aroma is sweet and earthy with a pronounced dried apricot note in both the wet leaves and the liquor.

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Even the tea liquor is a golden apricot color, giving this selection a stone fruit theme, for sure. The flavor is sweet, tempered by an earthiness and suggestion of tobacco. The stone fruit note is still there, however, not as strong as in the aroma.

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This is a great choice to start your exploration of Pu-Erh teas, if you haven’t tried them yet. Better yet, try this alongside some cooked Pu-Erh so you can enjoy the pronounced difference between them. And they all amazingly come from the same plant!

Tomorrow is a big day for us football fans here in New England. Our beloved Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl once again. Go Pats!!!

“If you ask me how I want to be remembered, it is as a winner. You know what a winner is? A winner is somebody who has given his best effort, who has tried the hardest they possibly can, who has utilized every ounce of energy and strength within them to accomplish something. It doesn’t mean that they accomplished it or failed, it means that they’ve given it their best. That’s a winner.”

~Walter Payton